Testifying in Court can be a hardship which often requires that you miss work, travel to a distant courthouse, and spend a lot of time waiting for the court to be ready to hear from you. There is a way that you may be able to testify in Court without showing up — by submitting a written statement, declaration or affidavit. Many court cases are resolved by judges based on information that is submitted in papers. These written submissions can take many forms, including declarations or affidavits. This article will tell you how you can testify in court without showing up by providing you with step-by-step instruction on how to draft a declaration, affidavit, or written statement.
Instructions for How To Testify In Court By Written Statement, Declaration, or Affidavit Without Showing Up
1. IDENTIFY THE COURT CASE AND YOURSELF. You should begin the declaration, affidavit, or written statement with the case caption and case number. This information is required so that the court will know which of its many cases your affidavit concerns. You should title the document “AFFIDAVIT OF ________” (insert your full legal name in the space). The facts should appear in a logical order. Often this means that you will write the facts in chronological order. When you are ready to introduce a new fact begin a new numbered paragraph.
2. ORGANIZE. Organize the declaration, affidavit, or written statement so that each fact that you would like to tell the judge is in a separate numbered paragraph. The facts should appear in a logical order. Often this means that you will write the facts in chronological order. When you are ready to introduce a new fact begin a new numbered paragraph.
3. FOCUS ON ESSENTIAL FACTS. Only include those facts that are necessary to understand the dispute. Try to be concise and to the point. Stick to your personal knowledge. This means that you should only write about those things that you personally observed or learned of through firsthand experience. Don’t try to tell the court about things you believe other people may have observed or experienced.
4. PROOF READ. Carefully proof read what you have written. As you proof read your work you have three main goals. First, make certain that everything is truthful and 100 percent accurate. Second, make sure that it is free of grammatical and spelling errors. Third, make sure that it makes sense to someone who is unfamiliar with the facts. A good way to make sure that you accomplish each of these goals is to have someone who is unfamiliar with the facts read your draft declaration, affidavit, or written statement, preferably an attorney.
5. CONCLUDE. The very last paragraph of the declaration, affidavit, or written statement will be a statement telling the court that you are signing the document under the penalty of perjury. For example, you may write, “I swear (or affirm) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of ____ (insert the name of your State or if you are filing in federal court instead of the name of your State write that you swear under the laws of the United States) that the foregoing is true.” Add in a line for the date. This can be a simple “Dated: ___.” Insert another line for your signature. Type your full legal name below the line for your signature so that if your signature is not legible the court can read the typed name.
6. SIGN AND DATE THE DOCUMENT. You are now ready to sign your written statement. Do not sign it yet. If possible, take the statement to an attorney for final review. Then when the statement is ready to sign, sign it before a notary public. A notary public will act as a witness. You will sign the statement while the notary public is watching. After you sign and date the statement, the notary public will then sign and stamp your statement attesting that she witnessed you sign it and that you are who you say you are (As part of the notary process the notary will verify your identity.)
7. FILE THE STATEMENT. If you have completed each of the steps above, you are now ready to file your declaration, affidavit, or written statement with the court. Make several copies of the original signed and notarized document. You will file the original signed and notarized document with the court. Most courts also require that you provide one or two copies of the document along with the original. You likely are obligated to provide a copy to the other parties to the litigation. Review the court’ s rules to make sure that you comply with all filing requirements. Remember to keep a copy of whatever you file with the court for your own records.
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